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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From the Ashes Shall Rise: Determinants of State Reconstitution in Republican China and Sengoku Japan

  • Author(s): Odell, Graham
  • Advisor(s): Solinger, Dorothy J.
  • et al.

This dissertation addresses the question of why some collapsed states have been reconstituted whereas others have not. Many states today have collapsed, so answering this question has not only scholarly but also practical implications. Very little theorization has been done on this issue, so this study’s primary purpose is to develop a new theoretical framework of state reconstitution, especially of the internally-driven variety, which may be more efficacious than externally-directed state reconstruction.

This study employs two cases of successful state reconstitution – Republican China (1912-1949) and Sengoku Japan (1477-1615) – to analytically-inductively derive a new theoretical framework. These cases are distinct across a number of potentially explanatory factors, thus making them ideal for a most-different same outcome (MDSO) research design, which is most appropriate for a study that seeks to formulate a novel theoretical explanation for a phenomenon.

Through the investigation of these cases as well as gleaning insights from the existing state formation literature, this dissertation develops a theory of successful state reconstitution by emphasizing the causal impacts of ideology, political symbolism and the distribution of social power. The penultimate chapter tests this framework on three cases not used to develop it and finds that the framework is highly successful in explaining cases very different from those employed to develop it in the first place, suggesting a substantial degree of generalizability.

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